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Texas War Hero Roy Benavidez Honored in Exhibit at Center for American History

The late army Master Sgt. Benavidez received the Medal of Honor for his heroism in the Vietnam War. In May 1968, he saved the lives of at least eight men during a daring rescue in the jungles near Loc Ninh, Vietnam, and was critically wounded. Benavidez promptly received the Distinguished Service Cross, but President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Medal of Honor in 1981 when the full story of his actions emerged.

"The Congressional Medal of Honor is our nation's highest recognition of an individual for valor in the face of the enemy," said Dr. Thomas M. Hatfield, head of the Center's Military History Institute. "We're grateful to the family for choosing The University of Texas as the repository for Roy Benavidez's papers. It is a significant collection for students of military history and for those interested in the histories of Hispanic and Native American Texans. The Benavidez Collection is indispensable to our emphasis on the contributions of Texas to America's military heritage."

"It is an honor for the Benavidez family to have our father's papers and important documents housed at Center for American History," said Yvette Benavidez Garcia, daughter of Roy Benavidez.  "It is especially an honor for me, as I am a 1993 graduate of UT Austin. This exhibit is important to our family because we want to share our father's documents. We know that the Center is widely used by those who are researching icons in American history, and now my father's documents, and all that he accomplished in his life, are available for all to use."

In 2007, the family of Benavidez donated his papers to the Center's Military History Institute. Notable material in the Benavidez collection includes speeches, photographs and numerous papers documenting his actions in Vietnam, and his 1983 testimony on Capitol Hill convincing Congressional leaders to veto reductions in Social Security benefits for veterans. His Congressional and Texas Legislative Medals of Honor are on loan from the family for this special exhibit.

Benavidez died Nov. 28, 1998, in San Antonio, Texas. Three elementary schools in Texas, a park in Colorado and the naval ship USNS Benavidez have been all named in his honor. In 2001, the Texas legislature honored Benavidez with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, and the Hasbro toy company released the Roy P. Benavidez G.I. Joe action figure, the first G.I. Joe to portray a soldier of Hispanic heritage.

For more information about the Roy P. Benavidez papers or the Military History Institute at the Center for American History, contact Echo Uribe, uribe@austin.utexas.edu, 512-495-4472.

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